Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Starbucks Can Teach Churches a Good Lesson

I love Starbucks. Some people are Dunkin Donuts fans but not me. Starbucks is the greatest thing that ever happened to coffee, and maybe even the country. If the Bible was written today and the Israelites were looking at going into Canaan and I was one of the people who spied out the land, I'd come back and say, "Tis a land filled with grande-non fat-no whip-mocha". Now that's a Promised Land!

On my day off I have a routine. I drop the kids off at school, go to the bank, fuel my vehicle and treat myself to one of the reasons for living...the grande-non fat-no whip-mocha. This past day off I did my usual and took the disposable holy grail afixed with the sleeve as to not burn my hand, and drove to run an errand. I let my beverage cool for a few minutes while I drive down the road. Then, the moment, like a kid at Xmas, like a couple on their wedding day, like... OK maybe I'm overdoing it here...I took the sacred sip! Instead of enjoying what I expected to be my chosen drink, I had a cup of hot chocolate that cost me $3.68! Not that I don't like hot chocolate. I just didn't expect that after I ordered it. The problem was that there was no espresso. What's a man to do? Don't be messing with a guy's espresso.

So as I drive to my errand I remembered another Starbucks location that I would pass (the Lord provides our every need). I stop and go inside. I explain to the nice lady at the counter what had happened. When I asked how much a shot of espresso would be, she said, "We'll just make you another drink" (insert kid at Christmas analogy here). I almost could't believe it. It was a chance for a profit. An opportunity to capitalize on my dilema for another $3.68 but she didn't do it. I felt so taken care of. So appreciated and honored that inspite of a mistake at one place, it was important to the company to make good on my expectation. It was so important that the face at the counter made sure it happened for me.

Why is it that more churches can't be like Starbucks? We have people who attend some churches and are offended and hurt only to leave and find another church where they get offended and hurt. There are some people who say that "these people just need to stop being so easily offended." Then when these offended people leave it seems to never be the church's fault. There is never a person involved beside the offended one. The apostle Paul in his writings in the New Testament ALWAYS put the responsibility of not offending people on the MATURE believers. He didn't blow off or dismiss the offended ones.

My church isn't perfect (seeing that I'm there and I know who and how I am) but it's vision to bridge gaps, repair breaches and reconciling people back to God sure does make a difference. I see it every week. We have made it a soft place to land, a place for hurt people to heal, offended people to grow, burned out people to regroup and wandering people to land. What makes it this kind of place? I think it's like Starbucks. It's the face(s) behind the counter. The people are more concerned that people come here and are honored, taken care of, cared about and encouraged. Whether it's one of the pastors, the greeters, the ushers, the welcome center people or whomever, they all speak the same thing...we love you. We want you taken care of while you're here, however long that may be!

So the next time you see that green and black circle with the "seductive siren of coffee" in the window of Starbucks, remember how they make you feel. And try to do that same thing wherever you go! People are coming to our churces with an expectation of love and acceptance. They stop by thinking they got burned at the last one so they are bracing for this one. Let's not give them anything else than what they expect of a loving church. If we do, don't act surprised if they go somewhere else.

Starbucks coffee "grande-non fat-no whip-mocha" is the official coffee of Velocity and its director.
No compensation in any form was paid to Velocity or its director for mentioning "Starbucks" in this column although it sure would be nice since he visits so often and spends as much for a gallon of milk he could be using for his kids for one cup of coffee!
Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts in a cage match...Starbucks always wins.

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